The rich storied history of America’s great pastime is also home to some of the best stories put on film. Countless documentaries have told stories of amazing comebacks, megalomaniac owners, historic ballparks, and amazing human stories the world over. Now there’s one about the baseball player who became a spy.
Directed by Aviva Kempner (The Life And Times Of Hank Greenberg), The Spy Behind Home Plate tells the story of major league catcher Moe Berg. Through a career that took him behind the plate for the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators and the Boston Red Sox, it was what Berg did after his playing career that makes his story memorable.
Berg would go on to join the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), spying in Europe for the United States where he became a paramilitary operations officer in the part of the OSS that is now called the CIA Special Activities Division. His missions included parachuting into occupied Yugoslavia, as well as missions where he had to “kidnap Italian rocket and missile specialists in Italy and bring them to the U.S”. Life post-baseball sounded a little more exciting for Moe Berg than when he was catching fastballs on a Sunday afternoon.
Thankfully he was a better spy than he was a ball player and if you’re wondering if there was ever a movie made of Berg’s life, then rest easy. There is, and it starred Paul Rudd as Moe Berg.
Kempner’s documentary, The Spy Behind Home Plate, is opening in the United States on May 24th. Check out the trailer above.
Miles Davis and The Birth of the Cool
Can one distill cool into one documentary?
If there is one thing that has been indisputable about the legacy of Miles Davis is that he was the personification of ‘cool’. And it seems like there was no decade where he was making music that he wasn’t ever cool. We once said about Miles Davis and his cool that “no matter how scrupulous your selection – one cannot distill cool into thirteen tracks, no matter how good“. Now the unenviable task of distilling that cool into a succinct document falls into the hands of Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, a new documentary detailing the life, music, and legacy of Miles Davis.
Directed by Stanley Nelson Jr. (Freedom Riders, The Murder of Emmett Till), Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival before hitting the festival circuit through the year. The film chronicles the rebellious nature of Miles Davis, detailing his desire to constantly break from the norm, with director Stanley Nelson saying;
“He was an extraordinary artist celebrated for his restless artistic aesthetic and his ceaseless innovation. He changed the course of music five or six times. By unpacking his upbringing, his methodology, his relationships, and his demons, we begin to understand the man who redefined the original American musical genre, jazz, and continues to influence generations of rock, funk, and hip-hop artists.”
Bruce Springsteen gets cinematic with Western Stars
“Life’s mysteries remain and deepen, its answers unresolved”
“We all have our broken pieces … nobody gets away unhurt. We’re always trying to find somebody whose broken pieces fit with our broken pieces and something whole emerges”
On the heels of the release of Bruce Springsteen’s nineteenth studio album Western Stars, Warner Bros Pictures has announced the release of the cinematic experience accompanying the album. The new film features Springsteen performing all 13 tracks from the new album, accompanied by a full orchestra in his 100-year-old barn. The film will also showcase old home footage as well as Springsteen’s life-earned ruminations we’ve seen through his career- brought to life recently with his stint on Broadway and on his Netflix special.
Warner Bros. exec Toby Emmerich has said about Western Stars and Springsteen;
“Bruce lives in the super rarified air of artists who have blazed new and important trails deep into their careers. With ‘Western Stars,’ Bruce is pivoting yet again, taking us with him on an emotional and introspective cinematic journey, looking back and looking ahead.”
Western Stars will premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, kicking off September 5th. The film was produced by Jon Landau, Barbara Carr, and George Travis with Springsteen executive producing it. Western Stars was co-directed by Springsteen and longtime collaborator Thom Zimny.